Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Excerpt of the Day (and some Janeite rambling)

After the workshop, I drift back to the Emporium, where I am alternately charmed and repelled by the merchandise on display.  For every apron or tea towel or mirrored compact bearing a genuine Jane Austen quote, there seems to be a key chain or plaque or note card adorned with a line found only in an Austen movie.  The real Jane Austen, I’m sure, would have died rather than write anything as maudlin as “Sometimes the last person on earth you want to be with is the one person you can’t be without” or “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another.” Hasn’t anyone around here READ THE BOOKS? I find myself wondering.  The movies had made Jane Austen more accessible than ever, broadening the base of her fandom and diversifying her appeal, and even as I register my silent squawk of protest, I feel a bit churlish… (But really—“Sometimes the last person on earth--?” That one wasn’t even in an Austen movie!  It was on the poster for an Austen movie!)  Once again, I’m face to face with the contradictions of fandom: I’ve come to a Jane Austen conference to enjoy the company of other Janeites, but I can’t help turning up my nose, just a little, at the gross ignorance—the sheer bad taste!—of people whose idea of Pride and Prejudice owes more to Keira Knightley than to Jane Austen.

In my reading of Among the Janeites, there have been moments—many moments, actually—where I groan inwardly, roll my eyes, and think such phrases as “oh, brother” and “ewwww no, stop” and even skimmed a little to get past some stuff.  But the paragraph above… it just spoke to me on a Deep and Personal Level.  (I wonder if that would qualify me as a “real Janeite” according to the ideas of its author, Deborah Yaffe?)

This isn’t going to be a review; I just wanted to share that bit with you and then ramble a little.  Because rambling is what I do best.  I can’t really recommend the book as a whole, and I don’t feel like getting into content advisory—but all in all, I did enjoy it and found a lot of the information rather fascinating; and the last chapter gave me both happy-warm-fuzzies and an ardent desire to attend the AGM—the Annual General Meeting, a convention of the JASNA.  Also to be a member of the JASNA…and the more that desire is cultivated, the more I am afraid to look and remind myself what the membership fee is.  Heh.
{Random update: Made myself look... fee for a year isn't as bad as I was expecting, really.  Hmmmm.  This is tempting. ;)}

But anyways.  It really did fill me with a great longing to be there…I never knew quite what those conventions were like till I read that.  I want to go and just run across people who name their babies and cats after Jane Austen characters, to wear Regency dresses and admire everyone else’s, to ohh and aww over some of the things people are selling and “silently squawk” over others (or, in the ideal situation, squawk to one or two other Janeite friends accompanying me because that would be far better than going alone); even attending the lectures sounds appealing, though it’s highly likely I’ll feel Extremely Irritated at some the opinions of both lecturers and other audience members.  Still, it would be… fascinating.

Back to this book… it definitely served to rekindle in me a desire to dive back, or further, into the world of Jane Austen, by suggesting a lot of new outlets, but mostly by showing me what woeful ignorance I seem to have when compared to Jane Fairfax a lot of other Janeites (and ‘scholars’).  I’ve got two new books on hold at the library and a list of some others to try, as well as quite a list of things to poke at online.  And this is an excitement I haven’t felt in a while, but that I’ve been missing…this pleases me.

I also enjoyed seeing the outcome of the author’s interview with my dear friend Miss Laurie—or, should I say, “Laurie Michael, the evangelical Christian.”  As she pointed out, though, there could be worse things to be called… and seeing her name in print in a book about Janeites and going “I know herrr!” is a very fun experience, especially since I got to hear all about the interview at the time. (Miss Laurie even mentioned my blog to the author… I wonder if she ever visited it?)

So, that’s all I have to say… I depart to do further Jane Austen research and daydream about being part of a big JA event.  Farewell for the present.


Naomi Bennet said...

I loved this post! Melody, you write so well... :-)

I KNOW! People start to think 'you have bewitched me body and soul' is Jane Austen. But it definitely IS NOT.
'Ewwww your hands are cold' YIK! That's not Jane Austen. Sorry Melody, for sickening you with horrible quotes.

I agree whole-heartedly. Things are not going very well in the J A fandom outside world. That is, if you call it Jane Austen, haha.

I also daydream of being part of a big JA event. I know how it feels like.

Bravo! This was a good post all in all. Well done!

(All your posts are delightful)

Miss Dashwood said...


Also, Among the Janeites is sounding awfully good. That first quote in your post Spoke to my Soul. This pleases Cute Owl. I shall snap it up from the library as soon as ever I can. (Don't ask me why, Bob. You know why, Bob.)

Would you rather hear the story...

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